Police continue search for gunman accused of fatally shooting officer

  • Officer Bronson Kaliloa, a 10-year veteran of the department, died Wednesday following a Tuesday night a shooting during a traffic stop in Mountain View. (HPD/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • Waiki
  • Hilo Exchange Club board President Jay Kimura presents an "Officer of the Month" award to Officer Bronson Kaliloa in 2014. Kaliloa, a 10-year veteran of the department, died Wednesday following a Tuesday night a shooting during a traffic stop in Mountain View. (HPD/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • Hilo Exchange Club member Joey Estrella presents an 'Officer of the Month' plaque to Officer Bronson Kaliloa in October 2012. Kaliloa, a 10-year veteran of the department, died Wednesday following a Tuesday night a shooting during a traffic stop in Mountain View. (HPD/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The search continues for a man suspected of fatally shooting a 10-year veteran of the Hawaii Police Deportment during traffic stop on Highway 11 in Mountain View.

The officer, a 10-year veteran of the Hawaii Police Department, has been identified as Bronson Kaimana Kaliloa. The 46-year-old was a patrol officer in the Puna District who started his career in August 2008 in the South Kohala District. He was named Officer of the Year for the Puna District in 2014.

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Kaliloa leaves behind a wife of 23 years, two sons and a daughter, whom police described as being “small children,” and a mother and father.

“This is probably the worst day in my 36-year career as a police officer,” Hawaii Police Chief Paul Ferreira said during a press conference less than 12 hours after the officer succumbed to his injuries.

At approximately 9:47 p.m. Tuesday, officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle bearing Hawaii license plate number ZGG 879, being operated by a 33-year old man identified as Justin Waiki, of a last known Las Vegas address. Waiki was wanted on an outstanding no bail warrant and multiple all points bulletins.

Ferreira said Wednesday that Waiki was being actively sought on no-bail warrant for revocation of his bail conditions. He said police initiated the traffic stop after receiving information about Waiki being on Highway 11.

When officers approached the vehicle, Waiki allegedly exited the driver front seat and fired multiple shots from what is believed to be a handgun, striking Kaliloa in the neck and leg area.

Other officers at the scene immediately returned fire, however, the suspect Waiki, was able to flee into the brush on foot. None of the shots hit the suspect, Ferreira said.

“Two were involved in discharging their weapons, all officers have been placed on admin leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation and pending a check of their well-being. Anytime an officer is involved in a critical incident were concerned for their well-being, especially in an incident where the death of a brother officer has occurred,” Ferreira said.

Kaliloa was transported by the Hawaii Fire Department to Hilo Medical Center where the medical trauma team began treating his life-threatening injuries and prepared him for surgery, police said. He underwent surgery, however, life-saving efforts were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at approximately 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

Highway 11 remained reopened around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. However, police continue to search for the suspect and process the scene for evidence.

The suspect is identified as Justin Joshua Waiki and is described as being 5 feet 11 inches in height and weighing approximately 145 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and a dark-colored jacket.

Ferreira said Waiki’s record includes 37 arrests for various offenses and 16 convictions. Three of those convictions were for felony offenses related to firearms, drug offenses and forgery and four for misdemeanors including assault, traffic violation and contempt of court.

“This man is considered armed and dangerous. Do not approach him, do not attempt to apprehend him. Call 911. Call (935-)3311. Text if you have to. Get us the information (and) let us take care of it,” said Ferreira.

Though his last address was in Las Vegas, Ferreira said “he is a resident of Hawaii Island, he has lived in lower Puna, upper Puna, Hamakua, Hilo — so various locations around the island.”

While the scene of the shooting is the primary search area, officers are checking locales Waiki was known to frequent.

“It’s a concerted effort around the island,” Ferreira said.

The FBI has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Waiki’s arrest.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the police at 935-3311 or those who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300.

The Criminal Investigation Section is continuing this investigation and anyone with information may also contact Detective William Brown at 961-2384 or by email at william.brown@hawaiicounty.gov.

Kaliloa is the fifth Hawaii Police Department officer killed in the line of duty since 1918, according to the department. They are Officer Manuel Cadinha, in 1918; Officer William “Red” Oili, in 1936; Officer Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku, in 1990; and Officer Kenneth Keliipio, who died in the line of duty in 1997 following a fatal car accident involving an off-duty police officer.

“This is the first time in my 36-year career history that I know and officer has been shot and killed,” Ferreira said.

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Gov. David Ige in a statement extended his condolences to the family of Kaliloa and his colleagues.

“He was a highly regarded 10-year veteran of the Hawai‘i Police Department who will be greatly missed. As we mourn this tragic loss, let us honor Officer Kaliloa and all men and women in blue for their bravery and commitment to keeping our families and communities safe,” he said.